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Mary is the antidote to our anti-life culture
The notion that women must support abortion has “become part of the cultural air that we breathe,” author Carrie Gress told Our Sunday Visitor.
While this was not always the case, abortion has been labeled as the solution for women’s problems — namely the “problems” of children and chastity.
In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, Gress, who received her doctorate in philosophy from The Catholic University of America, explains how we live in a culture that is anti-virgin and anti-mother — ultimately anti-Mary, the Virgin Mother herself. Sharing insights from her most recent book, “The Anti-Mary Exposed” (TAN Books, $27.95), Gress gives hope that our Blessed Mother is the antidote to this culture of death.
Our Sunday Visitor: This year’s theme for the March for Life is “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” Why is this topic important for our culture?
Carrie Gress: I think this is an important theme because it gets to the heart of one of the biggest lies we as a culture have lived with for over five decades — that our children are an obstacle to our happiness. This lie was promoted by second-wave feminism, and contemporary women still continue to embrace it, even unwittingly. It has just become part of the cultural air that we breathe.
But if you step outside of the culture and look at all of human history, it is remarkable to see how effective this lie has been (3,000 abortions daily in the U.S. alone), but that it was able to strike a major blow to the most fundamental and tenderest of relationships that exists on earth — that of a mother and her child.
The culture has convinced women with a barrage of daily reminders — in pop music, politics, Hollywood, magazines and the fashion industry — that children destroy our lives, ruin our careers and ultimately prevent us from true happiness. Just like the many, many women who are coming forward to tell us about how they regret their abortions, we are also hearing from the woman that regret not having children and families because they believed this lie.
Our Sunday Visitor: In your new book, “The Anti-Mary Exposed,” you unveil how our current culture is anti-virgin and anti-motherhood. How did this come about?
Gress: The idea for my book came from looking carefully at the culture and looking at the Virgin Mary, whom even National Geographic has called the “most powerful woman in history.” No woman on earth has been more influential. I looked at Mary’s attributes and compared them with what we see among our own cultural elite women. What struck me was that these women didn’t just reject a few Marian qualities, like humility and service, but that what they were promoting were the vices that were opposed to who Mary is. They were attacking virginity and motherhood, and of course, she is the Virgin Mother.
In the book, I look at the sources behind this attack on womanhood. Simply put, it is a blend of Marxism and the occult, which together promoted the idea that women had to focus on their careers (Marx), but also that women are a more perfect being than men, no matter what they do (a form of goddess worship). We can see this play out in the “believe all women” mantras we hear, but also in the subtle but continual messaging that the world would be more perfect if it were run by women. What this blended ideology ignores are the real vices that women have, while distorting the virtues, which have created an impossible ideal for women to achieve that is totally disconnected from authentic human nature.
The feminist ideology has also dramatically distorted the relationship between men and women, with women twisting themselves into an intellectual pretzel as they try to both hate men, but also become just like them.
This deadly blend of ideas, plus the new media of television in the 1960s and ’70s, had an incredible effect on the minds of most women — one we are still living with today, though we have become so used to it, we may not even realize it.
Our Sunday Visitor: How does all this relate to the rise in abortion?
Gress: Abortion played a vital role in holding these ideologies together. The feminist movement would have probably splintered too severely to be much of a force without it. Within the movement, you had women like Kate Millet, who was deeply intellectual while encouraging any sort of sexual libertinism (including pedophilia), and then someone like Helen Gurley Brown, who started Cosmopolitan with the idea that it was a kind of Playboy Magazine, but for women. Gurley Brown’s notion of sexual license was in the form of promiscuity, but of the heterosexual sort. Like many factions in the movement, these women could agree on very little, but both agreed emphatically that abortion was the linchpin necessary to facilitate their lifestyles. Abortion became the glue that held all these different camps together. We can see strains of this glue even today in the Women’s March when the organizers made it clear that they were open to letting any woman march with them, provided she was pro-choice.
Our Sunday Visitor: Society leads women to believe that abortion is an issue that they should fully support. Can you speak to that?
Gress: As I mentioned briefly, our culture is controlled by a group of women I’ve come to call the matriarchy. These are the women that control the messaging that gets to women through media, politics, pop culture and so on. And like their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers before them, they have bought into the lie that our children are the obstacles to our happiness. This is what we hear over and over again every day as American women.
Because the ideology is built on a lie, it has to resort to all kinds of manipulation and propaganda to keep the truth from showing. But the reality is that women are not happier because of the so-called advances made by radical feminism, or because of abortion on demand, but instead show a dramatic increase in unhappiness that we can see in the statistics like depression levels, suicide and substance abuse numbers, divorce rates, STDs, and so on. Because of the pain women are enduring, they are starting to ask questions and look for answers. As pro-lifers, we have an incredible opportunity to provide the truth to those who are seeking answers to end their pain and suffering.
Our Sunday Visitor: In your book, you argue that Mary is the antidote. What role does Marian devotion have in this anti-Mary and anti-life culture?
Gress: What most intrigued me about looking at the direction of our culture was to see what was directly under attack — virginity and motherhood. These are incredibly powerful gifts that women have been given and are the ordinary routes to achieving holiness and happiness.
Like with Eve of old, Satan knows that if he gets women, he gets everyone. Men don’t want to fight with women, so they will follow where the women lead. And if the beautiful ways that women have to bring order, life, grace and love are no longer accessible, or understood, then the whole of a society will fail.
Mary is the antidote, because she was the antidote to Eve. She is the woman who knows what God’s will is and follows it. What Eve said no to, Mary ultimately said yes to. But even this story is a hard one to tell today because most women struggle to understand who Mary is. Ideas like humility and meekness are very out of fashion.
In my book, I tried to find new ways to help readers see that they have more of a connection to her than at first glance — that she has and is what they want. The fundamental desires of every woman’s heart (although it can be distorted and damaged) is to be known and loved, to do good and to be beautiful. (Watch the Hallmark Channel — all three are part of the recipe for their movies.) Mary has all of these things, because her will is perfectly united to God’s will, and we, too, have the opportunity to have all of these desires fulfilled, not by living as the culture tells us to live, but like Mary, by seeking out and doing the Father’s will.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.